August 2014 Archives
Click here for the game recap and final stats.
Click here for Steve Sarkisian's press conference with Cody Kessler and Leonard Williams.
Sarkisian warned USC fans to stay in their seat when the offense has the ball because the Trojans are going to play at a breakneck speed. Well, he was not lying. USC set a Pac-12 record by running 104 offensive plays tonight. "I thought the guys really were locked into the game plan," said Sarkisian about the fast start, which included touchdowns on the first three drives. "They had a really good sense of urgency. And for the most part, it was pretty clean."
The Point Guard
QB Cody Kessler set a new career-high with 394 yards passing plus 5 touchdowns (4 throwing and 1 running), but his athleticism stood out the most. While he is not asked to be a true dual threat quarterback, the prep basketball star showed some nimble footwork to extend plays and even pickup 28 rush yards. However, he could use some help on his sliding. "I got all over Clay [Helton] and said, 'What are you guys doing in individual when I am not looking?' We've got to work on our quarterback slides, that's for sure," joked Sarkisian, a former baseball player. "All in all for the first time in this system, I thought he played great."
USC bloodied the majority of the true freshmen tonight, but instead of succumbing to opening night nerves, they stole the show. Adoree' Jackson and Bryce Dixon caught touchdown passes. Damien Mama, Toa Lobendahn and Viane Talamaivao helped keep Kessler sack-free and paved the way for 268 rush yards (133 by Buck Allen). The 2014 class appears to be special, but maybe no one more so than JuJu Smith who caught 4 passes for 123 yards, which is more than Marqise Lee, Robert Woods and Nelson Agholor combined in their debuts. "Walking down the tunnel, I almost shed a tear," said Smith about his pregame emotions. "I knew what I had to do. I had to represent the Trojans."
Pick and Pop
Fresno State wanted no part of USC's pass rush, so both Bulldog quarterbacks got rid of the ball as quickly as possible. The Trojans' defense adjusted by clogging up the passing lanes and forcing four interceptions, including one by All-American DE Leonard Williams, who also had 7 tackles. "My coaches were telling me to try to beat the cut blocker by getting my hands up, and that's what I tried to do," said Williams, who almost had a second pick. He was joined in the pick party by LB Anthony Sarao, S Gerald Bowman and LB Michael Hutchings.
The first quarter was nearly flawless, but coaches are never satisfied. Sarkisian and his staff will point to two fumbles (Allen and Justin Davis) and a lackadaisical start to the second half as areas of improvement. The head coach stressed at halftime that the team "come out with the same fire" as they did in the first half, but instead, Fresno State marched right down the field for six. "That is definitely an area that we need to improve upon because for us to be a great team, we need to be a great second half team," said Sarkisian.
The Trojans were clearly not looking past Fresno State, but now we can all focus on the Pac-12 opener at Stanford (Saturday at 12:30 p.m. PT on ABC), which has become an annual candidate for game of the year. The Cardinal won its opener 45-0 over UC Davis today, and they pose the toughest physical challenge on USC's schedule. "No partying tonight for me. I'm just going to get ready for Stanford week," said Williams, who knows the task at hand. "I'm pretty sure they are going to try to come back with some vengeance this week. We've just got to make sure all the guys are on board."
Here are the SnappyTV highlights from the season-opening win:
First, get your cell phone loaded with the USC GameDay app, which covers all the Coliseum ins and outs, and the TuneIn app, so you can listen to the radio broadcast from start to finish, including the extended two-hour pregame show and two-hour post-game show.
Then, check out USCTrojans.com which turns into GameDay Central every football Saturday featuring our live Tunnel Vision pregame show streamed straight from the Coliseum turf (starting at 3:30 p.m. PT) plus a live chat and GameTracker. To contribute to the GameDay Central page, tag your Twitter and Instagram posts with #FightOn.
Inside the stadium, the video board will feature fan driven content both pregame using #USCSelfie and during the game with #FightOn. Also, follow @USC_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram for updates, photos and videos.
For post-game coverage, wait out the traffic to enjoy the Peristyle Post-Game show live at the Coliseum hosted by All-American Shaun Cody and Kelli Tennant. Plus, return to the RipsIt Blog and all our social media outlets for notes, quotes and a full multimedia blitz.
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 4:30 p.m. PT on FOX
Bulldog to Watch: Senior FS Derron Smith
For the first time in nearly 100 years, the Trojans are facing the same opponent in back-to-back games, but this version of Fresno State will look different than the high octane outfit led by Derek Carr in last year's Las Vegas Bowl. The 2014 Bulldogs feature a hard-nosed defense with Smith (pictured) running air traffic control. He enters the season as the national leader in career interceptions (14), and he is the preseason Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year.
Click here for more on the Bulldogs.
USC had a nearly silent Fall Camp until all of the sudden game week sprung a pair of controversies. Unfortunately, most of these Trojans are all too used to dealing with adversity and turmoil. But on the flip side, they are pros at blocking out the noise and focusing on the game. If the Trojans concentrate on the task at hand, they should have the talent advantage to open the Steve Sarkisian era with a victory.
The Big Five
While Fall Camp revealed many answers, the offensive line is still a work in progress particularly on the right side. LT Chad Wheeler and C Max Tuerk are the veteran stalwarts and freshman LG Toa Lobendahn appears wise beyond his years, but the right side will feature a rotating cast of characters including RG candidates Damien Mama, Khaliel Rodgers and Viane Talamaivao, and RT options Zach Banner, Aundrey Walker and Nathan Guertler. While Fresno State is a worthy challenger, Stanford's renowned physicality is on the horizon, so the Trojans will want to be a solid fist on "The Farm."
Growing Up Fast
Sarkisian estimated that he will play 10-11 freshmen this season with the hopes of redshirting the rest. Plus, several redshirt freshmen and transfers will make their Coliseum debuts on Saturday. The young Trojans have no time to be awed by the bright lights in the big stadium. On a more veteran team, freshmen like JuJu Smith, Ajene Harris and Adoree' Jackson would be luxury items brought along over time, but these talented teens need to be ready to go from Jump Street.
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After filling out the form and receiving your confirmation, the car wash is located in Parking Lot 3 off 39th Street and Vermont. Keep an eye out for Helpful SoCal Honda Car Wash signs, or ask a Helpful SoCal Honda Ambassador for directions.
Click here to see the new site.
The university has carved out an area on-campus for the Trojan Game Day Experience, which is free and open to the public in Alumni Park. With the themes of "Enjoy Responsibly, Feast On Safely and Celebrate Courteously," the University aims to keep the campus a safe, welcoming and enjoyable environment for all who visit on football game days.
Click here to see the show.
Plus, the conference network previewed USC's season opener against Fresno State, which you can watch below.
USC senior cornerback Josh Shaw came to USC athletic department officials this afternoon (Wednesday, Aug. 27) and admitted that he had lied about how he suffered his ankle injuries over the weekend.
He said that the story he told of rescuing his nephew in a pool in Palmdale, Calif., was a complete fabrication. He apologized for misleading his coaches, teammates, athletic department officials and the public.
"We are extremely disappointed in Josh," said USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian. "He let us all down. As I have said, nothing in his background led us to doubt him when he told us of his injuries, nor did anything after our initial vetting of his story.
"I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized. Although this type of behavior is out of character for Josh, it is unacceptable. Honesty and integrity must be at the center of our program. I believe Josh will learn from this. I hope that he will not be defined by this incident, and that the Trojan Family will accept his apology and support him."
Sarkisian said that Shaw has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities.
Shaw has retained Donald Etra as legal counsel. Etra will issue a statement on Shaw's behalf soon.
USC regrets the posting of the initial story on Monday (Aug. 25).
My client, Joshua Shaw, has asked me to make the following statement on his behalf:
"On Saturday, August 23, 2014, I injured myself in a fall. I made up a story about this fall that was untrue. I was wrong to not tell the truth. I apologize to USC for this action on my part.
"My USC coaches, the USC Athletic Department, and especially coach Sarkisian have all been supportive of me during my college career and for that, I am very grateful."
Here are selected clips from this week's show:
Click here to watch USC women's soccer head coach Keidane McAlpine.
Click here to watch Director of Football J.K. McKay.
Here are RB Buck Allen and OLB J.R. Tavai:
- "I thought the guys came in with a real intense attitude," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "You could feel the energy in the air. You could feel the passion they had for it...So, a lot of the physical work is done. We'll come back tomorrow for Thursday and start really cleaning some stuff up and get ourselves prepared to play on Saturday."
- Defensive captains DE Leonard Williams and LB Hayes Pullard stressed that the off-the-field distraction is not affecting the team's mentality and preparation at all. "We're not going to let something on the outside affect what we have to work on. Our goal is just to beat Fresno and that has nothing to do with us beating Fresno," said Williams.
- The most experienced player on the team, Hayes Pullard added that the team is "blocking it out" and focusing on taking things one day at a time. "Coach said the first day, 'the game is played between the lines, so anything that goes on outside the sidelines, we don't worry about it."
- The Trojans have faced a lot of adversity throughout the fifth-year senior's time here at USC, but he hasn't let that affect his performance or role as a leader. "We're still close as heck. We keep everything in the locker room," said Pullard. "Our team has our bond together and even though we're off the field we still have that bond as well."
- Sarkisian really had nothing new to report regarding the Shaw situation also saying the main focus is preparing for the Trojans' home opener on Saturday. "It's pretty clear there are quite a few conflicting stories out there," said the head coach. "Any information that we've been provided up until this point, we've pushed along to campus authorities. We're really going to let it play out in their hands up until this point and quite honestly, we're in somewhat of a holding pattern."
- The head coach is adamant that his team will be ready to go come Saturday. He said, "We've put in too much work over the last nine months to let an hour or two of social media and internet reports distract us from being a great football team. If it does, then that's not a good sign moving forward. We have to be strong enough to handle adversity whether it's on the football field or off the field and continue to hang together, to be together and go out and play great football."
- Injury report: OG Khaliel Rodgers is a game time decision with a knee injury, and RB Tre Madden is still in a walking boot, so his availability remains questionable due to turf toe. OG Jordan Simmons (knee) will likely not be cleared for Saturday, so he will be a week-by-week decision.
- Here is the head coach addressing the swarm of media after practice...
- Head coach Steve Sarkisian addressed the media after practice about football and then Shaw. Regarding the injured senior cornerback, Sarkisian said, "Josh Shaw first and foremost is a good person, he's a good kid. He came to us with what had occurred Saturday night. I have no reason, no history, to not believe Josh and his story with what has occurred."
- However, USC received phone calls contradicting the story, said the head coach, so the vetting process continues before Shaw addresses the media himself. "Josh is adamant with what occurred and we are going to continue to vet the other stories that have come across our desks, and see where we can go from there," said Sarkisian.
- Shaw's teammates continued to rally support behind him. "I pray for him for a speedy recovery. If he needs anything, I am here for him," said RB Buck Allen. "I'm going to motivate him and I know he's going to motivate us the best he can."
- On the field, the Trojans will definitely be without Shaw, the team's best cornerback, against Fresno State. "I've been talking about Chris Hawkins since spring ball. I think that he's really improved for us," said Sarkisian about the next man up. "It really pushes Adoree' [Jackson] to the forefront. It pushes Jon Lockett to the forefront and Lamont Simmons has to be ready to play."
- As for this week's opponent, Fresno State is something of a mystery offensively since the Bulldogs have not name a starting quarterback. Head coach Tim DeRuyter is expected to give both junior Brian Burrell and senior transfer Brandon Connette opportunities to lead the team on Saturday. So, the Trojans are focused on preparing for Fresno's system and focusing on themselves. "When you focus on yourself, generally, you go out and you perform well," he said. "Let's not lose sight of ourselves and get caught up in our opponent."
- The final depth chart of Fall Camp sprung a few surprises, but Sarkisian said, "We're going to run a lot of plays, and everybody is going to play."
- The Trojans are back in school, so the morning practice schedule and a long day ahead made for a sluggish start, but Allen explained that the team pushed through it. "We're tired of beating up on each other. Game week is here. Everybody is excited to go with Coach Sark's game plan," he said. "To be a great team, we've got to come out and do the little things."
- Here is Sarkisian on football and Shaw:
- Freshmen guards Toa Lobendahn and Damien Mama are listed as first string at left and right guard respectively. If the pair starts on Saturday, it will be only the second time in USC history that two freshmen have started on the offensive line, and the first time in a season opener.
- Freshman Ajene Harris is listed at one of the first string wide receiver positions alongside Nelson Agholor and George Farmer.
- Scott Felix nabbed the first string SOLB spot with Hayes Pullard and Anthony Sarao listed at the ILB positions, and J.R. Tavai as the RUSH end.
- Redshirt senior Gerald Bowman and sophomore Leon McQuay III are both listed atop the free safety list.
The new head coach was even more impressed with the Women of Troy's performance against the USD Toreros on Sunday which resulted in a double overtime 1-1 tie, breaking the Toreros' streak of 40 consecutive matches ending in a decision. The Trojans struck first as junior striker Megan Borman scored in the 24th minute off a pass that was deflected from junior Reilly Parker, but the Toreros bounced back quickly tying the game in the 32nd minute. The Women of Troy missed lots of opportunities to put the game away as they finished with 13 shots on goal compared to the Toreros' six; however, McAlpine appreciated the effort from his squad in just their second match of the season.
Former USC first baseman and outfielder, Lucas "the Dude" Duda, continues to make a name for himself in the big leagues as he carried the New York Mets to an 11-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers knocking in a career-best five runs with two home runs on Sunday.
The Southern California native was called up to the New York Mets in 2010; however, it took Ike Davis being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the beginning of the 2014 season for Duda to earn a full-time starting position at first. After finishing the 2013 season with15 home runs and 33 RBIs in 100 ABs, Duda already has a career-best 26 home runs and 76 RBIs in 404 ABs for the 2014 season.
Sunday's victory over the NL West leaders wrapped up a five-game California homecoming for Duda who finished with four home runs and 10 RBIs against the Oakland A's and Los Angeles Dodgers. Heading into the weekend series, Duda ranked second in home runs, third in RBIs and fifth in slugging percentage for NL first basemen.
Home run No. 25 came in the third inning of Sunday's game when Duda launched a ball off Kevin Correia that reached the back right pavilion of Dodgers stadium putting the Mets ahead 5-1. Check out the three-run bomb from the former USC slugger below...
Here are the Pierson Clair photos:
On the field, they went through their full warmups before playing a game against the scout team, which was dressed in black. The scrimmage featured no live tackling and was closed to the media.
Here is head coach Steve Sarkisian after the Mock Game:
Size: 5-foot-11, 185 pounds
High School: Serra HS (Gardena)
Scouting Report: Jackson has almost unanimously been described as a "freak athlete" by his teammates and coaches. He is not the biggest guy, but he has tremendous leaping ability to compete against bigger opponents. He has the talent to effect the game in so many ways including receiver, cornerback and return man.
Prep Career: He ran for 639 yards on 66 carries (9.7 avg) with 5 TDs and caught 38 passes for 812 yards (21.4 avg) with 7 TDs on offense in 2013, plus he had 36 tackles, 6 interceptions (3 for touchdowns), 8 deflections and a forced fumble on defense and he had 3 TDs on returns. Serra played in the 2013 CIF Western Division final (he had a 92-yard punt return and a 93-yard kickoff return in the game).
Fall Camp: All eyes have been on Jackson since his first steps on the practice field, and he has not disappointed. Defensively, he is working mostly with the second team at cornerback learning the ropes behind veterans Josh Shaw and Kevon Seymour. On offense, Jackson will have a package of plays to make his mark. During USC's most physical scrimmage, he opened eyes with a punt return for a touchdown after spinning away from a pile and angling around defenders in the open field.
Sark on Jackson: "I'm trying to find a flaw with the guy, but he prepares, he studies, he gets his rest, he recovers, he comes energized, and ultimately he knows what he's doing and he makes plays."
Here is Jackson meeting the media...
Click here for more.
Size: 6-foot-4, 240 pounds
High School: St. Bonaventure HS (Ventura)
Scouting Report: Dixon is cut in the modern mold of tight ends with the athleticism of a basketball player, but the size and physicality to develop into a powerful blocker. He is already a polished receiver with the ability to contribute immediately, but like a typical freshman, he needs to learn the nuances of the game and progress as an all-around tight end.
Prep Career: As a senior, Dixon made 64 receptions for 781 yards (12.2 avg) with 14 TDs to earn an invite to the U.S. Army All-American Game. In 2013, he had 23 catches for 349 yards (15.2 avg) with 5 TDs.
Fall Camp: As he mentions in the video below, Dixon has gained a lot of weight to bulk up for the college game. He will be thrown into the fire immediately since Randall Telfer's former backup Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick was ruled academically ineligible. He has been one of the standout playmakers throughout Fall Camp.
Sark on Dixon: "In the short term, that guy is a weapon in our passing game."
Here is Dixon on his first day with the media...
Click here for the complete preview.
While the Trojans are coming off some down years, the cupboard was not bare as McAlpine embarks on a rebuilding effort. Sophomore Mandy Freeman, who was All-Pac-12 First Team as a freshman, will anchor the defense in front of senior goalie Caroline Stanley.
Junior Jamie Fink will be the fulcrum in midfield setting up an attack that features talented sophomore Kayla Mills, who led the team in points last season with four goals and eight assists, and striker Katie Johnson, who netted five goals to tie Fink as the team's leading returning goal scorer.
Forgetting the focus on individual pieces, McAlpine is driving the Trojans to understand the team concept. "The one thing that we try to do is we try to make sure that they understand that they can't do it divided," he said. "Everything we talk about, on and off the field, is about how each decision made individually affects the collective group."
The Women of Troy open the fall campaign with four road games, including a trip to Notre Dame, before dropping the curtain at McAlister Field on September 5 against UC Riverside (4 p.m. PT). USC will be featured on Pac-12 Networks 10 times this season with the showcase match coming November 7 against rival UCLA at the Coliseum on Senior Night (7:30 p.m.).
Here is the official 2014 schedule poster which you can click to enlarge and download:
- USC's morning practice was a typical Thursday format meaning light on physicality but heavy on strategy. The Trojans will have a short afternoon walk-thru later today, which is typical of a Friday practice. Then, they will depart for the team hotel and simulate the night before the game complete with meetings and motivation.
- Saturday, they will arrive at the Coliseum for a Trojan Walk, and then play a mock game, which is closed to the public and media. The scrimmage will not feature live tackling, but the first team will go against a scout team in black jerseys. And, the coaches will surprise the players with game-like scenarios such as Cody Kessler getting hurt and Max Browne having to come in during a series.
- In terms of real injuries, RB Tre Madden will likely be a game time decision for Fresno State as he recovers from turf toe. "When you start messing with a running back and his feet or his toes, and the ability to push off, they just don't overnight all the sudden get better," said head coach Steve Sarkisian.
- LB Lamar Dawson is probably out the first month as he continues to rehab from last season's knee surgery, per Sarkisian as well.
- The Trojans have a real possibility of starting two freshmen offensive guards as Toa Lobendahn and Damien Mama continue to work with the first team.
- QB Cody Kessler was given the day off today to rest his arm after an outstanding Fall Camp.
- Here is Sarkisian after this morning's light workout:
- No new injury news today. Freshman OL Toa Lobendahn got a rest day since he has been pushed harder than most of the offensive linemen playing guard with the first team and center with the second team.
- Long snapper Zach Smith sprained his wrist, so Peter McBride is handling the field goal and punt snapping duties. Backup QB Conner Sullivan has taken over as the holder on field goals and extra points.
- Sarkisian referred to punter Kris Albarado as "a weapon" because the
second year starter has been booming the ball throughout Fall Camp.
Andre Heidari has won the kicking battle despite a strong push from Matt
Boermeester. "I think Andre has done a really nice job," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "We have a lot of confidence, and I think he has a lot of confidence right now."
- In a sequence that would make any USC fan optimistic about the future, Adoree' Jackson and JuJu Smith made back-to-back diving catches on sideline fade routes.
- Later in the practice, Victor Blackwell caught a bomb for a touchdown. "Cody was throwing the ball down the field, which was a point of emphasis in today's practice, and guys were making plays on the ball down the field, which was encouraging," said Sarkisian. The USC offense is designed to run the ball effectively to setup the deep ball.
- The defense is rotating a lot of bodies to combat the fast-paced offense. Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox explained that some players will be taken out when they need a break and others will be on a substitution pattern. "Hayes Pullard is going to be on the field. If Hayes needs a break then we will sub him," he said.
- The faster offensive tempo could put more pressure on USC's defense because the Trojans are not stressing time of possession and the game as a whole will likely have more snaps. If it becomes a fitness contest, Sarkisian will take his guys. "I'll be shocked if there is a better conditioned team in the country," he said.
- Sarkisian likes his developing depth defensively as he called out freshmen Olajuwon Tucker and Uchenna Nwosu plus veterans Greg Townsend and Michael Hutchings as players that have improved rapidly in the last few weeks.
- Su'a Cravens' (pictured) hybrid position has become a big story since Jabari Ruffin created a hole at SAM linebacker. Wilcox calls his spot "the dollar" and explained that he is really a third safety in nickel situations not a true linebacker. In general though, Wilcox writes off the whole situation as semantics.
- Here is Sarkisian's presser with some great stuff on Leonard Williams...
Size: 6-foot-2, 210 pounds
High School: Poly High (Long Beach, CA)
Scouting Report: Smith is as physically developed and gifted as any USC freshman in recent memory. He has the ability to contribute immediately on both sides of the ball. As a receiver, he presents a big target with superior athleticism to go up and get the ball at its highest point or run right by his defender. He could potentially be an impact safety as well with strength and length similar to T.J. McDonald.
Prep Career: Smith was a 5-star recruit after a standout high school career at Long Beach Poly, one of Southern California's powerhouse programs. He was ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's 24th best player. He earned a list of accolades culminating in being named an Under Armour All-American.
Fall Camp: Despite the two-way reputation, Smith has played exclusively at wide receiver since reporting for camp. While the coaches had plans to try him at safety, he has been so dynamic on that side of the ball that those ideas have been shelved for now. He could also play a role on special teams as a returner after showing off blazing speed during a touchdown run at the recent Coliseum scrimmage.
Sark on Smith: "He's going to play so much for us offensively and he's earned it, it probably wouldn't be fair to him right now (to play him on defense). He's just really good for us right now on the offensive side of the ball."
Here is Smith in his first day with the media...
Click here for more.
The Pac-12 Networks will carry USC's home match against UCLA live at 8 p.m. PT on Sept. 23 while ESPNU will broadcast the match at Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 28 at 8:30 p.m. PT.
Click here for the complete radio release!
USC football game broadcasts will continue to be on ESPN Radio, but coverage now begins four hours before kickoff and extends two hours after the final whistle. The first two hours of pre-game will be hosted by the play-by-play voice of the Trojans Pete Arbogast alongside Steve Mason and Harvey Hyde. Then, Mason and John Jackson will take over the America's Tire Stage outside the Coliseum peristyle, and Jordan Moore will report from inside the stadium as we lead you all the way to kickoff.
Once the game begins, Arbogast will be on the call for his 20th season, and Jackson, a former USC Academic All-American and two-sport star, is back as the color commentator. Moore will be on the sideline again for interviews and updates.
After the game and the locker room report, former USC women's volleyball player Kelli Tennant and 2004 All-American DL Shaun Cody will take over the America's Tire Stage outside the Coliseum peristyle for the post-game show which will end two hours after the game. Fans are invited to wait out the traffic and enjoy the show, which will include live interviews and analysis.
USC men's basketball play-by-play announcer Chris Fisher will fill in for Tennant when she has broadcasting conflicts, while Ron Pivo will substitute on the pre-game show for Arbogast during road games. Outside of the traveling broadcasters, the pre- and post-game shows will originate from the ESPNLA studios.
Fans attending the Coliseum will want to get in their seats early as our exclusive TunnelVision pre-game show is now broadcast live on the video board starting one hour before kickoff as well as on USCTrojans.com. The on-field show is hosted by Katie Boggs and Danny Page who will be joined by a rotating cast of national champions including Cody, Lawrence Jackson and Thomas Williams.
Outside of game day, two USC radio shows return in 2014. Trojans Live hosted by Moore and Jackson on KFWB 980, which is now an all-sports station, will be broadcast live from The Lab gastropub across Figueroa from USC every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. and be streamed live on USCTrojans.com, KFWB.com and FOXSportsWest.com. And finally on Sunday mornings, Arbogast and Hyde will breakdown the previous day's game on Trojan Brunch, a two-hour show on ESPNLA 710. All USC broadcasts can also be heard via the TuneIn app.
After a day off, the Trojans were back at it with another two-a-day on Wednesday and finally, the freshmen got to meet the press.
- Wednesday's practice mimicked that of a Tuesday practice during the regular season in regards to intensity and workload. "Tuesdays are lunch-pail, hard-hat kind of days," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "We've got to work and there's no easy way around it. We've got to get a lot done and it's going to be a physical practice."
- For the first time, Sarkisian let the incoming freshmen speak to the media with two and a half weeks of Fall Camp under their belts. Overall, the head coach is impressed with the maturity and effort from his first recruiting class at USC. "It was a highly touted group coming in. I think there were some expectations that this group was going to come in and contribute and compete. To their credit, they've prepared for it," he said. "Training camp is not easy when you're back being the freshmen...but I think this group for all intents and purposes has really battled through it. They've got some quality maturity about them, they've got good work ethic and I think they're really going to contribute to our success this fall."
- One of the surprises of Fall Camp for the head coach has been the outstanding play of WR Ajene Harris. "He just appears very natural. He looks like he's been doing this a long time," explained Sarkisian.
- Three members of the freshmen class are listed as playing both ways including athletic phenom Adoree' Jackson. Sarkisian specifically noted how impressed he was with Jackson's ability to physically and mentally handle playing both sides, but the freshman is up for the challenge. "I don't really have a preference," Jackson said. "Whatever I'm needed to do on the field, that's what I've been doing."
- Another freshman whose number will be called quite often is WR/S JuJu Smith. Though he has the potential to contribute on both sides of the ball, Sarkisian believes at this point the team is best served with Smith on offense. "He's going to play so much for us offensively and he's earned it, it probably wouldn't be fair to him right now (to play him on defense) ," said the head coach. "He's just really good for us right now on the offensive side of the ball."
- Smith joins a talented wide receiver corps and is benefiting from their combined experience. "I've learned a lot. From Darreus, I learned to use my body. From George, I learned speed and from Nelson I learned smartness. Mostly I've learned field awareness on reading the defense's coverage," said the freshman.
- With redshirt freshman right guard Khaliel Rodgers sidelined for up to two to three weeks with a knee injury, true freshman Damien Mama has stepped up to fill his spot in practice and the coaching staff has taken note. "What I like about Damien right now is he hasn't gotten discouraged when he makes a mistake, he gets right back in and goes after it again," said Sarkisian. "To me that's a sign of a player that's resilient and tough-minded and is going to have a chance to be really successful for us for years to come."
- Sarkisian drew comparisons between the freshman and former USC OG Deuce Lutui in the way they carry themselves on and off the field, specifically in their work ethic. "We've really been pushing Damien physically the last few practices. We've made it hard on him, left him in for extended reps, and he's responded really well. He's a big human being in there, he's hard to run around."
- Junior RB Tre Madden has turf toe and could be out for up to a week. However, this allows sophomore RB Justin Davis a good opportunity to see extended reps. Though the focus is on making sure Buck Allen, Tre Madden and Justin Davis are all fresh and ready to go for game day, Sarkisian noted that Davis "might have performed the best of anybody" in the Trojans' two scrimmages.
- Wednesday marked 10 days until kickoff for USC and Sarkisian is confident in the preparedness of his team. "I think we're very close. We had a great practice this morning. We'll really put it all together on Saturday in a mock game where we utilize all of our substitutions and the flow of the game with special teams and what not. Practices like tonight make me fell better, like we're closer."
- Here is Coach Sarkisian at the conclusion of Wednesday's practice...
Gary Klein (LA Times) and Scott Wolf (Daily News) remain the constants, but Klein's work will now be complemented by Lindsey Thiry who is running USC Now, the paper's new Trojan blog. Michael Lev, who left the USC beat for a couple years to cover the NFL, has returned to handle the day-to-day Trojan news for the Orange County Register as Rich Hammond moves on to follow the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
On the web, Ryan Abraham has taken USCFootball.com from Rivals.com to Scout.com, and he will maintain his staff under the new umbrella company. Adam Maya, a USC alum, will join Chris Swanson on the beat for Rivals' new USC site, TrojanSports.com. Garry Paskwietz continues to lead WeAreSC.com, which is ESPN's USC site, as does Scott Schrader with Fighton247.com.
Of course, you can always get comprehensive USC football coverage with behind-the-scenes access right here on the RipsIt Blog as well as the Trojan social media network which includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
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Williams was an emotional leader for some of the greatest teams in Trojans history, but before the glory days at USC, he had to conquer a childhood filled with pitfalls and doubters. Having coming out the other side, he has extrapolated his experience to educate others about following their dreams.
Junior Samantha Bricio and sophomore Ebony Nwanebu stand at the core of the 2014 squad. They are one of the nation's most talented offensive duos.
The big hitters will be setup by a pair of returning setters in senior Hayley Crone and sophomore Alice Pizzasegola. And, the middle will be occupied by veterans Hannah Schraer and Alicia Ogoms.
Click here for the complete season outlook.
The question lies in defense where Natalie Hagglund, always the smallest Trojan on the court, leaves behind the biggest hole as a departed three-time All-American libero. But, head coach Mick Haley has a plan for that.
"We had previously designed our defense to accent Natalie," said Haley. "We've since changed that in order to put less pressure on the position. We will replace Natalie by committee. We'll change what we have the blockers do a little bit, and we'll cover the court starting at the net a little more. We'll have to wait to see who steps up so we can best construct our lineup. Once we get that, it's about developing a role for every player, and people knowing what's expected of them, so that they can contribute to the team effort. Organization will be the other part. We need to be better organized."
The plan goes into action starting August 29 as the Women of Troy open the season in Stockton at the Community Bankers Volleyball Classic. USC opens its home account with Texas A&M on September 11 and Florida on September 12.
Here is the official women's volleyball poster, which you can click to enlarge and download:
The Women of Troy sent five representatives playing for three different countries to the 2014 FINA World Cup in Russia, and they all came back with hardware. Team USA featuring recent graduate Kaleigh Gilchrist and two-time Olympian Kami Craig took home the biggest prize defeating Australia in the Gold Medal Game.
The Aussies' silver medal squad included former USC All-American Hannah Buckling and current student-athlete Jayde Appel. Spain occupied the final spot on the podium as 2013 national championship hero Anni Espar helped her country collect the bronze.
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Here are the John McGillen photos:
- The Trojans simulated a preseason game tonight complete with special teams situations and physicality throughout. They survived the scrimmage with minimal injuries, although OG Khaliel Rodgers' knee will undergo further tests. Also, Tre Madden (turf toe), LB Michael Hutchings (ice on shoulder) and LB Anthony Sarao (ice on ankle) were removed before the end.
- USC is actually getting healthier as star defensive linemen Leonard Williams and Antwaun Woods participated in full contact tonight albeit for about a dozen plays. "Obviously, you'd love to play those guys as much as you can," said defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. "Those guys will be ready to play."
- The scrimmage started with the first teams going against the second teams and both top units dominated. Offensively, FB Soma Vainuku showed off his agility and power on a catch-and-run making a defender miss before plowing through another. The drive ended with Tre Madden's rushing touchdown. On the next first team offensive series, Cody Kessler hit TE Randall Telfer down field to setup a Buck Allen rush TD.
- Kessler on the first team offense: "I felt like we made huge strides. From where we were last time to now, scrimmage-wise, we did a great job."
- The defensive first team made short work of the second team offense with OLB Scott Felix (formerly Starr) standing out. In the first matchup of ones vs. ones, the defense held the offense after giving up a couple first downs. Felix actually hit Kessler on a pass rush, for which he quickly apologized, and then Delvon Simmons batted a pass in the air which RT Zach Banner caught for a considerable loss.
- The first team offense did get its payback in a short field drill capping a 40-yard scoring drive with a Kessler TD pass to Allen.
- Head coach Steve Sarkisian on the first team: "I was encouraged by
the fact that our ones really dominated the twos. Not that our twos
aren't good players, but I thought that the execution on both sides from
the ones was really good when it was ones versus the twos."
- On the second and third teams, RB James Toland IV had a highlight run, and S Matt Lopes picked off Max Browne for the only turnover of the day.
- The biggest highlights of the scrimmage came on special teams as two freshmen displayed jaw-dropping athleticism. First, Adoree' Jackson had an electrifying punt return for a TD and then JuJu Smith showed an incredible burst of speed on a kick return for six.
- Jackson did struggle a little at cornerback with two penalties, one for pass interference and another for holding, and Wilcox noted that the college referees are emphasizing coverage penalties just like the NFL this year.
- The offensive line saw some shuffling tonight. When Rodgers went down, freshman Damien Mama was pushed into the first team. And, Aundrey Walker is starting to round into form, so the coaches tried him at right tackle for the first time this Fall Camp, but he is also an option at guard. Sarkisian said that he is planning on rotating offensive linemen within games this season.
- Once again, WR Nelson Agholor was held out of the scrimmage for precautionary reasons despite being healthy. Sarkisian sees the wide receiver position as a little undefined outside of Agholor. The unit has "a lot of bodies" and different guys have flashed in "spurts," said the head coach. He would like to see more from Steven Mitchell, and he expects the young receivers to be "wide-eyed" early on.
- Here is Sarkisian on the biggest test of Fall Camp to date:
Here is Project Trojan episode two:
To that end, the Serbian was the Pac-12 All-Stars' leading scorer on the recently completed trip to China. In the three games, Jovanovic averaged 11 points per contest.
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Along with his basketball development, Jovanovic (center) was able to tour China, including Shanghai's Yu Garden with his Pac-12 teammates.
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"I never really let myself believe it was actually going to happen because I wanted it so bad," Ross said. "It was kind of weird how it happened, but I think we played really well this whole tournament and we battled. Even in that final until Brooke got hurt, we battled and I think we were going to take it."
Ross will have her name plaque on the pier alongside fellow Trojans Miki McFadden (the only other USC woman), Ron Lang, Tim Hovland and Adam Johnson.
"I'm humbled by the fact that I'm out there with Kerri and I'm going to be on the pier till the world ends."
With Fall Camp winding down, we checked in with soccer to see how the first training camp under new head coach Keidane McAlpine is bringing the team together.
On the eve of another two-a-day, the coaching staff was extremely impressed by the Trojans' performance as they continue to grind through the heart of Fall Camp.
- "These are kind of the dog days of training camp...It's easy to try and just survive a practice," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "I thought the guys today had awesome energy. They were competing from the moment we started and competing at a high level. I was really proud of them."
- Sarkisian emphasized that the focus for the next two weeks will be all the little elements of the game. He said, "This isn't about implementing schemes. We've got a pretty good idea of who we are... Now it's about the details of the calls, the nuances of the calls. Those are the things that we are really trying to nail right now, the special scenarios."
- Entering his fifth season, senior TE Randall Telfer knows the importance of mastering the tiny details, something he preaches to the younger guys. "I feel like I bring some experience. I've been here for forever, it seems," laughed Telfer. "I've played in a lot of games and been in a lot of different situations. I've been up at the half, been down at the half, I've lost games during the season and won a lot of games too. I feel like I add that element for whenever guys get down on themselves, I can put things in perspective for them."
- As the most experienced member of the tight end group, Telfer recognizes the importance of his role on the team but is excited for the challenge. "It feels like it's been forever since last season," said the senior. "I'm just excited to get back out there. It's the first time in a while that I've been 100 percent. I feel ready to go. I try not to think about any pressure. I feel like there is a little bit just because I'm the older guy and there are a lot of young guys looking up to me. But I just try to put my head down and play the game."
- Telfer's leadership has dramatically impacted freshman TE Bryce Dixon (pictured) who has made tremendous strides since the start of camp. "Bryce is doing exceptionally well. I'm very proud of what he's done so far. He's picking up the playbook pretty well, especially for a freshman," praised Telfer. "I'm looking forward to what he can do for us this season."
- The senior tight end's presence is not only recognized by the freshmen, but by the coaching staff as well. "Telfer is very important not only to our tight end group but to our team," explained tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo. "He's a senior, he's been around and he has goals that he wants to accomplish still. He's a hard worker, he's one of the first guys out here catching balls each day. He's very patient with our young tight ends, he's teaching them and he's a great role model."
- The AP released its preseason rankings on Sunday with the Trojans coming in at No. 15. When asked of his reaction, Sarkisian described the news as 'totally irrelevant' saying that he's never talked about rankings with the team. Instead, the head coach focused on the team's main goals for the season. "What we can control is trying to win the PAC-12 South. If we can do that then we can compete for a PAC-12 Championship and then the ball's out of our court."
- Offensive injury report: OG Aundrey Walker continues to improve as the coaches were impressed with his performance in the last 48 hours, and OG Damien Mama is back after tweaking his ankle on Saturday. RB Justin Davis was sidelined due to an ankle injury he suffered in Saturday's practice but the coaches are not concerned with its severity.
- Defensive injury report: DT Cody Temple is recovering from a concussion so he was no contact on Sunday but should be back fully in the next couple of days. OLB J.R. Tavai is also back after rolling his ankle on Saturday. S Gerald Bowman was out sick so he did not practice. DE Leonard Williams and DT Antwaun Woods both were back in full pads, but ILB Lamar Dawson is still recovering from a knee injury. OLB Jabari Ruffin, who tore his ACL last week, scheduled his surgery for the end of this month but has already begun rehab.
- Much to the players' delight, Andre Heidari made a 40-yard field goal to help the Trojans end practice a little early and some members of the team even elected to jump off the high dive to cool off after another hot day.
- Here is Coach Sarkisian after practice...
- The coaches led the team through an intentionally hard practice in the midday heat to challenge them coming off a physical practice on Friday night. Head coach Steve Sarkisian explained that the Trojans' overall endurance will be a huge factor in determining how successful the 2014 campaign will be. "We're going to have to fight through it," Sarkisian noted. "We're going to have to play when we are a little sore. We don't have the luxury of holding guys out. We have to learn to fight through and I thought the guys did a good job today."
- Sarkisian highlighted the defensive effort on Saturday as they continue to welcome back players who were sidelined like Su'a Cravens. The coaches changed up the defensive scheme a little by trying the sophomore safety at a hybrid linebacker position due to his ability to create turnovers. "He's such a versatile guy. He's got a very high football IQ that he allows us the luxury of moving him around," said the head coach. "I think he likes being around the ball. This way allows him to get involved in the action."
- The Trojans also welcomed back CB Kevon Seymour who finally practiced with no restrictions. The junior is impressed with the current state of the secondary but knows there is still work to be done. "We're looking real good," Seymour said. "We've been up and down but for the most part we are growing as a unit and we're helping the young guys. Overall, all the freshmen are catching on. They've still got some work to do but they're learning."
- Both Seymour and Cravens explained that consistency is the secondary's biggest concern as they hit the halfway point in Fall Camp. "One day we're the best secondary in the nation and the next we are the worst," said Cravens. "So we have a lot to work on when it comes to just being consistent."
- The defense has had the luxury of going up against Sarkisian's new, fast-paced, spread offense which the Trojans will see a lot of in PAC-12 play. Cravens cited the tempo as being the hardest thing to keep up with. "We go against the same plays every day but it seems like they're running different ones just because of how fast they are moving."
- Sarkisian also praised USC's wealth of offensive talent highlighting the diverse options available on any given play. "We're a unique group in that we can give you just about every personnel group," said the head coach. "And not just put it on the field but have real weapons at every spot."
- One of the Trojans' versatile weapons, freshman Adoree' Jackson, was back in action today after sitting out a couple of practices with a hurt foot. Jackson practiced exclusively at corner and made an impressive knock down over the top of Victor Blackwell on his first day back. "He was a little rusty out there today but all in all, his athleticism looked great," explained Sarkisian. "His first day back, I didn't want to put too much on him."
- Saturday saw a few more injuries for the Trojans as RB Justin Davis, OG Damien Mama and OLB J.R. Tavai all tweaked their ankles, none of which appear serious. Good news is that DE Leonard Williams and DT Antwaun Woods are making huge strides toward being back to 100 percent.
- To conclude practice Sarkisian reminded everyone in the team huddle that two weeks from today they would be in about the second quarter against Fresno State. The head coach challenged his players to assess themselves now that they've arrived at the midpoint of camp. "You guys have got to go look yourselves in the mirror and ask yourselves: one, am I ready to play a game? Two, if I'm not, what are the issues that I need to get worked on, get fixed in the next two weeks to put myself in the position to play?"
- Here is the rest of Sarkisian's post-practice presser...
In the first of two practices on Friday, the Trojans focused in on the mental side of the game.
- Reversing the usual two-a-day routine, head coach Steve Sarkisian used the morning practice to work on specific scenarios like
game-winning field goals and offensive drives in the final seconds of a
game, and will use the night practice as a more physical workout.
- Sarkisian said elements of practice will start to look a lot like a real game as the Trojans enter the heart of Fall Camp. "Everything we do is really specific in what we are trying to accomplish," he said. "We're not just running plays anymore. There are going to be scrimmage aspects that will start to really bring the game together for the team."
- Slowly but surely through the first several weeks of Fall Camp the offensive line has come together. While Sarkisian says they haven't reached perfection yet, he's been impressed with the improved communication of the unit and the tremendous leadership of center Max Tuerk and offensive tackle Chad Wheeler. The head coach explained that the lingering injuries of Jordan Simmons, Aundrey Walker and Nico Falah have prevented the line from performing at optimal capacity.
- With more experience under his belt, Tuerk can see the difference that hundreds of snaps to quarterback Cody Kessler have made. "I feel a lot more comfortable. We've taken a lot more reps and now I definitely feel more comfortable than I did."
- While Kessler is responsible for orchestrating his receivers and running backs, Tuerk's role is to be the quarterback of the offensive line. Learning to thrive in his new position has meant embracing the challenges of an uptempo offense. "You just gotta hustle. You've got to be thinking at all times and you just have to run up to the line and get the call in from the sidelines and make your calls as fast as possible."
- Overall, Tuerk is encouraged by the state of his line with two weeks to go before the first game. "It's looking pretty good right now," Tuerk said. "Obviously we have a lot to improve on. We can still get better every day. I think right now as an offensive line we're working well together and we're a really close group."
- Offensive tackle Zach Banner agrees with his fellow lineman but knows there is still work to be done for him and the entire offensive line to be ready for game day. "I feel like I'm getting better every single day because pressure is put on me every single day. I love every minute of it and I know that that's what it takes to make me better, to make our offensive line better and ultimately to make our team better. It starts with the offensive line, it starts with us."
- While Banner says that physically the offensive line feels prepared to handle the new fast-paced system, the biggest challenge is mental. "You've just got to study a little more. You need to know your role much faster than most other offensive lines do. We don't take all that time. It's now, now, now."
- Thursday was an off day for the Trojans as they took official team pictures before heading off for an afternoon of bowling and arcade games. But even on off days, the team is always ready to compete. "We like to rejuvenate them," said Sarkisian. "We like to come together as a team and have fun, but also be competitive. At first they were kind of tired but when pop-a-shot basketball and bowling started, the guys were trying to rip each other's throats out. These guys are ultra-competitive. They love battling with one another, but that's a great trait. We look for guys who are true competitors, no matter what we're doing. And I think we have a football team full of those players."
- Here is Coach Sarkisian after Friday morning's practice...
"I was excited to get in the end zone for the first time," Lee said. "I just need to get in there a lot more now."
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The second-round pick has Rookie of the Year potential as one of the top weapons in the Jacksonville Jaguars offense, but he will need to adjust quickly to life in the big leagues. Lee struggled in his first preseason game, but responded last night.
"Last night gave me a lot of confidence," Lee said. "My main focus is wanting the team to understand I'm reliable. Chad [Henne] coming to me early and me catching the ball helps build that trust. I want them to come to me in tough times."
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As is typical, the Pac-12 is the conference of quarterbacks again in 2014. Of the 32 candidates, the Pac-12 claims seven selections.
Malia Cravens wandered around John McKay Center to provide a behind-the-scenes angle of photo day.
USC Football Picture Day 2014 - Images by John McGillen
- The team emerged from the scrimmage relatively unscathed despite a major scare when starting QB Cody Kessler was rolled up on after fumbling the ball on an awkward exchange. In the end, head coach Steve Sarkisian joked that Kessler was left with a "bruised ego" but nothing more.
- RB Buck Allen (shoulder) was dinged up during the scrimmage, and QB Jalen Greene (abdominal strain) was held out.
- Freshman OL Jordan Austin is out for the season as he will undergo surgery on both hips just like Zach Banner did last year.
- WR Nelson Agholor did not scrimmage because the coaches were just protecting him.
- Both the offense and defense made big plays tonight. Cody Kessler started the scoring by hitting JuJu Smith for six, and then Max Browne made a beautiful 80-yard connection with Victor Blackwell. There were no official stats kept tonight.
- Defensively, Chris Hawkins stepped in front of a Browne pass for an interception, and Gerald Bowman grabbed a tipped Kessler pass. Plus, Kevon Seymour stripped Ajene Harris for another forced turnover.
- On special teams, Soma Vainuku created a blocked punt, and freshman Jonathan Lockett made a diving deflection of a field goal.
- Sophomore RB Justin Davis did not score, but he was the star of the scrimmage with several long runs and shifty moves. "I thought Justin played really well. We've been challenging Justin," said Sarkisian. "He's coming off the foot injury and we're really just trying to get his confidence back. I thought he competed at a very high level."
- As is typical of a Fall Camp scrimmage, flags were flying at times. "I've got to get with some of the older guys and fix this problem we have with penalties and just young things that are not supposed to happen on the field," said captain Hayes Pullard.
- Hawkins' INT continues a strong camp for the redshirt freshman who has completely transformed his body from year one to year two. "When I came, I was kind of fat," Hawkins said plainly. "I took the whole redshirt year to get faster and get my body right, and now I feel I can compete with anyone out here."
- Hawkins credits both USC's nutrition staff and strength and conditioning staff for aiding him. "They helped me turn my body around. I'm feeling good," said Hawkins, who is most proud of his new six-pack.
- Here is Sarkisian's complete presser in which he speaks at length about the promising freshman class...
Click here for the recap.
Jovanovic averaged 8.0 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per contest in his freshman campaign. He started 24 games and played in all 32 contests.
(Photo by Kory Mortensen)
McAlpine is the reigning Pac-12 Coach of the Year, and the Trojans do return a solid core in All-Pac-12 defender Mandy Freeman, senior goalie Caroline Stanley, junior midfielder Jamie Fink and sophomore winger Kayla Mills.
USC opens its season in San Diego next week against Long Beach State (August 22 at 5 p.m.) and San Diego (August 24 at 2 p.m.). The home opener is not until September 5 against UC Riverside (McAlister Field at 4 p.m.).
- On the injury front, DB Su'a Cravens strained his groin, and TE Bryce Dixon tweaked his groin. DL Leonard Williams, DL Antwaun Woods, OL Jordan Simmons, CB/WR Adoree' Jackson and WR Darreus Rogers are all among the sidelined.
- The coaches were much happier with the offensive tempo today as Steve Sarkisian would like to see his team play at a faster pace. He expects the Trojans to run only 10 to 13 seconds between plays when the offense is pushed to warp speed.
- USC is able to play faster in part because "the terminology and the verbiage is a lot less for the kids right now," said offensive coordinator Clay Helton. "They're learning concepts rather than being told each person what to do." Plus, the simplicity enables skill players like Nelson Agholor to line up at multiple spots within the offense.
- The base package of the offense has been installed through a week and a half with only specialty situations still to be introduced. However, especially with the young guys, minds will go blank when the bullets start flying Wednesday night. "We have a saying, 'Assume nothing and coach everything.' Act every day like you are teaching them from brand new," said Helton.
- Helton has nurtured Cody Kessler's career from his first days on the USC campus, and he has seen his greatest growth in his "anticipation level." In this camp in particular, Kessler is hitting his running backs not just as an outlet but as playmaking receivers in space, he said.
- Any questions about Kessler's arm strength are a thing of the past. "He can make any throw on the field," said Helton.
- As a unit, Helton would like to see his quarterbacks display "decision-making, timing and accuracy" during the scrimmage. "Those are the three things that we set our standard by. Protecting the ball, getting it to the right guy, getting it out on time and then being accurate, so he can do things after the catch."
- As for the entire team, Sarkisian wants to see the Trojans "put it all together" in a live setting. Today, wideouts JuJu Smith and George Farmer stole the show with touchdown catches.
- Here is Sarkisian after practice today...
Arbogast took over for Kelly in 1989 as the radio play-by-play man for USC football, but his resume shows a depth of broadcasting talent including the Olympics, USC men's and women's basketball, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cincinnati Bengals and more.
The induction ceremonies are set for January 26, 2015 at Lakeside Golf Club in Toluca Lake.
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The Ice Bucket Challenge is more than a fun viral sensation. Since July 29, the national ALS association has collected $2.3 million in donations compared to $25,000 during the same period last year.
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The Women of Troy are in full grind mode as training camp began last week, but they took some time out to enjoy photo day and introduce us to a couple members of the squad.
- As we reported last night, OLB Jabari Ruffin is out for the season with a torn ACL. "The news about Jabari was disappointing," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "There's going to be some injuries and how we respond is critical."
- The Trojans were also without the services of DL Leonard Williams (shoulder), DL Antwaun Woods (elbow), WR Darreus Rogers (Achilles) and CB/WR Adoree' Jackson (foot) in today's practice.
- In the absence of Ruffin, who was in line for a starting role, the coaching staff has come up with several contingency plans. First, sophomore Quinton Powell is a direct replacement, although a slighter build than Ruffin. "It's just that nature. You know that you are up next," said Powell. "They didn't have to tell me, I already knew."
- Second, the rush ends, namely J.R. Tavai and Scott Felix (formerly Starr), are versatile enough to play the SAM position. "All of us kind of learn the same thing. We just have to watch a little bit more film and go into the playbook," said Felix, who describes himself as a "hybrid" linebacker and defensive end.
- Third, everyone moves up one on the depth chart, so freshman Uchenna Nwosu could see a role this season. "He's a good player," raved Powell about his teammate. "They recruited some good athletes this year. Uchenna is just like me and Jabari honestly. He's explosive. He has a swagger about him and I like that."
- Finally, DB Su'a Cravens is big enough to push into the box and play a linebacker role in nickel situations, especially against the spread teams in the Pac-12 like Arizona or Cal.
- Overall, the defense made more plays today with three interceptions stemming mostly from wide receiver mistakes. Cravens and CB Josh Shaw had picks on dropped passes, and Matt Lopes took advantage of a wideout running the wrong route.
- Offensively, Sarkisian explained that the entire unit needs "to pick up the tempo" and is "just not fast enough." However, freshmen TE Bryce Dixon and WR Ajene Harris made big touchdown catches late in practice to salvage the afternoon.
- Here is Sarkisian's post-practice presser:
Team USA was led by four All-American Trojans in Murphy Troy, Tony Ciarelli, Riley McKibbin and current senior Micah Christenson. Troy, Ciarelli and Christenson all started, while McKibbin came off the bench.
Team doctor Bill Stetson, a fifth USC All-American, luckily was not busy on the night, but he also enjoyed a Trojan homecoming. USC head coach Bill Ferguson was in the building to welcome them all back to Troy.
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The new version features a comprehensive guide to USC football under the Trojan Way tab, which includes coaching philosophy, traditions and a virtual facilities tour. Plus, enjoy exclusive video content going behind-the-scenes all season long as the Trojans make a push for a Pac-12 crown.
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The app includes the popular interactive Photo Booth, as well as a redesigned social media section featuring a digital mosaic of social media content from official USC Athletics feeds, USC coaches and players, as well as USC.edu social media streams. USC merchandise and tickets also are available for purchase within the dynamic app, which will have new video and elements added regularly throughout the year.
"This is very unfortunate news about Jabari, but I know he will rehab well and come back strong next year," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "And, I know our team will step up in his absence."
Ruffin made 22 tackles as a reserve last season, including his first career sack. Without him, the Trojans will lean on J.R. Tavai, Scott Felix (formerly Starr), Quinton Powell and some strong freshmen to fill the outside linebacker positions.
- Sunday's morning practice saw some key players get a little banged up, but head coach Steve Sarkisian believes the injuries to be minor, hopefully sidelining them only as precautionary measures. DE Leonard Williams' non-surgically repaired shoulder got dinged, OLB Jabari Ruffin tweaked his knee, WR Darreus Rogers experienced some tightness in his achilles, WR/CB Adoree' Jackson's foot was stepped on, and DT Cody Temple is being treated for concussion symptoms.
- As the players get deeper into camp, conditioning is key as the Trojans are already feeling the impact of this new fast-paced system. "We had great mental focus. We already installed the plays, and now we are just working to get better," said RB Tre Madden. "This offense is awesome. It's simple, but now we need to get in shape and get our conditioning in."
- Sarkisian's new system is extremely run-heavy and with the Trojans boasting a running back corps filled with three talented athletes, the focus has been on rotation. "When my number is called I'm going to make plays." said redshirt junior Buck Allen. "I don't care if I get one touch. I'm going to make the best of it."
- Sunday's practice focused on short yardage and red zone scenarios with the offense eventually winning the day despite a huge fourth down stop in the red zone for the defense. Sarkisian mentioned that he was really impressed with the offense's efficiency in the red zone, the timing of passes and the recognition of coverages by the receivers and quarterbacks.
- "The pendulum swings back and forth," said the head coach regarding the offense's dominant performance. "I suspect the defense will come back either at tonight's practice or tomorrow, but that's what good teams can do. They have a way to fight back and bounce back on either side of the ball when they need to pick it up."
- The Trojans had the day off Saturday, but Sarkisian and the rest of the coaching staff spent the time meeting to discuss personnel especially in terms of who should be on special teams. With DT Antwaun Woods out as well as the players mentioned above, the coaches got really good looks at some of the younger guys on Sunday as they shuffled around positions.
- "You try to contingency plan as best you can," said the head coach. "You try to get prepared for some of the 'what ifs' in the season." Sarkisian was especially impressed with freshman C Viane Talamaivao and OG Damien Mama who both saw some reps at the guard position on Sunday. He also mentioned that freshman WR Rahshead Johnson may see some time at corner and WR JuJu Smith will get some reps at the nickel position on defense.
- Sarkisian ended the practice on a fun note, accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge in support of ALS awareness from USC Athletic Director Pat Haden before challenging former USC head coach, and current head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll to join the efforts to #StrikeOutALS.
- Here is head coach Steve Sarkisian after Sunday's morning practice...
- Junior DT Antwaun Woods suffered a left elbow injury today, which forced him to leave practice and put his arm in a sling. The X-rays came back negative (which is positive), and Steve Sarkisian estimated that he will be out 1-2 weeks.
- Woods was hurt during a typical offensive line vs. defensive line drill, but practice was more physical with a tackling drill and then about 25 scrimmage plays. Everyone came through those relatively unscathed and the coaches were able to test the toughness of their young players.
- The scrimmage portion provided an opportunity for some big plays, and LB Quinton Powell made the day's standout highlight stepping in front of a Max Browne throw for a pick-6.
- Offensively, the tight ends displayed some explosiveness. Randall Telfer showed that he is fully healthy, but walk-on Chris Willson was the biggest surprise. He barreled through defenders on a 50-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. "I haven't had a breakaway catch like that [before]," said Willson, who has really bulked up since moving from quarterback. "After that, I was just moving. I feel good. I feel strong. Today, the proof was in the pudding."
- Freshman TE Bryce Dixon continued to exhibit tremendous athleticism as a pass catcher. "In the short term, that guy is a weapon in our passing game," said Sarkisian, who explained that Dixon needs to continue working on his blocking to become a complete tight end.
- In a freshman versus freshman battle, JuJu Smith beat Adoree' Jackson on a deep fade.
- While the offense made some plays in the passing game, the running lanes were more like slivers. LB Hayes Pullard cut Justin Davis down in the backfield to record a tackle-for-loss, and DL Leonard Williams is terrorizing his friends on the offensive line. "Leonard makes it really hard to run the ball," Sarkisian said. "Fortunately, as I reminded Coach Drevno last night we were watching the film, as hard as it is that we have to face Leonard every day in practice, we don't have to face him every Saturday during the season."
- Davis was the workhorse tailback today as Buck Allen and Tre Madden sat out the contact portion. Sarkisian wanted to test Davis who admitted he needs to get back into running shape after a long offseason rehabbing from a leg injury, which did provide him the time to get noticeably stronger.
- Davis spoke plainly about the talent the Trojans have in the backfield (pictured). "It might sound cliche but I honestly believe we are the best running back group in the nation," said the sophomore. "Teams are not going to be ready for it and we are going to show them something powerful."
- Running backs should get more touches in Sarkisian's offense, especially as pass catchers. Davis made a reception on a wheel route down the field today. He is also a kick return candidate, which he said takes "a little crazy" if you want to be good.
- Sarkisian listed CB Chris Hawkins and OT Zach Banner as two of the most improved players.
- The team will have a day off tomorrow to enjoy a movie and relax, and then the Trojans will return to the practice field on Sunday morning. Here is Sarkisian's post-practice press conference...
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The promotion runs from August 1 until October 31, and the tickets are redeemable for any of the Trojans first five home games. Consumers completing an eligible quote will also be automatically entered into a drawing to win a pair of tickets to the USC/Notre Dame game on November 29.
"We're very confident we can save Trojan football fans money on their auto insurance," says Erik Thompson, Mercury advertising director. "In fact, we're so sure fans will save with Mercury that we're willing to give away a pair of tickets just for giving us a look. And the best part is that the fans win either way - they get free tickets and they could also save a few hundred dollars on their auto insurance."
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The new measures should be a boon for student-athletes, whose welfare has become the most debated topic in college sports, including the likely implementation of "cost of attendance" stipends, which was approved by the NCAA years ago, but voted down by the full membership. Big five autonomy comes as no surprise to USC athletic director Pat Haden who has been pushing for change since his first days in the office.
"I've been arguing that we need to do more for these kids for years, and this is just the first step," Haden said. "It is great for student-athletes at USC. Some of the things that we have done already with the four-year scholarships and the new meal policy we have, we'll just continue to do as much as we are allowed to do."
Some rule changes, like scholarship numbers, are outside of the power scope of the major conferences to ensure that competitive balance is not completely disrupted. And, every institution will have the right to judge on its own if it can implement the new rule.
The conferences have not decided on any new legislation yet, but Haden hinted that the first dominoes might start falling after the athletic directors meet in San Francisco later this month. He would like to see athletics become less of a time commitment for all student-athletes, so they can enjoy the "complete college experience."
Here are the John McGillen photos featuring many of those freshmen and an incredible catch by George Farmer:
USC Football Fall Camp 08.07.2014 - Images by John McGillen
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Under the direction of new head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert, USC track and field is on the rise with both the men and women welcoming in star-studded recruiting classes. Last season, the men tied for 4th in the country, while the Women of Troy finished 16th overall at the NCAA Championships.
The Trojans had their first Fall Camp practice at the Coliseum on Thursday to the excitement of both the team and head coach Steve Sarkisian.
- "I want to make sure we are comfortable in this environment," emphasized Sarkisian. "I am very accustomed to practicing in a stadium. For the last five years (at Washington) that's what we did every single day. Probably as much as anybody I want to be comfortable in here."
- Sophomore wide receiver Darreus Rogers was just as thrilled to be back in the Coliseum. "I love it. It brings back memories and makes you want to make big plays all over the field. Just to have guys to push you and compete against is awesome. JuJu Smith, Adoree' Jackson, these true freshmen are out here ballin'. It makes everyone have to step their game up a notch."
- The team took a break in the middle of the scrimmage portion of practice to run lines. When asked about the brief intermission, Sarkisian explained that sometimes he has to hold back the competitive energy of his squad. "I thought our competitive spirit was very high today, maybe at some times a little too high. We have to be a smart team. If it's a period where we are not going to the ground, we need to learn to stay off the ground. I felt like we were going to the ground too much and it was time to send a little bit of a message. I thought they responded really well, they came back the rest of the practice and practiced the way we are capable of."
- Sarkisian said he is encouraged by the punt, kickoff and kick return units, specifically noting the potential weapons available on kick returns. "Both George Farmer and Adoree' Jackson are very talented at it. And the third guy, Justin Davis, I think he is going to be very good at it as well," Sarkisian noted. "That's a great problem to have."
- Jackson has been impressing coaches all over the field. The freshman has taken snaps on defense, at wide receiver, on kick returns and today even ran a play out of the backfield. Wide receivers coach Tee Martin is most impressed with Jackson's ability to learn so much, so fast, and believes the sky is the limit for the young athlete.
- "Adoree' just needs to keep doing what he is doing," Martin said approvingly. "We are going to
utilize him in every way we can. He is a very unique athlete, there have
not been many players like him in college football in a long time.
We're going to put the ball in his hands any way that we can. On
defense, on punt returns, on offense. He is a great football player. We
are excited about where he's at."
- Sarkisian explained that in order to avoid overloading the freshman in his first week of practice, the coaches are counting
every rep to make sure his work load is balanced with his teammates. He's also noticed Jackson's football intelligence as well as his attitude in handling every challenge thrown his way. "I'm trying to
find a flaw with the guy, but he prepares, he studies, he gets his rest,
he recovers, he comes energized, and ultimately he knows what he's
doing and he makes plays."
- Rogers has been impressed with the talent of the new freshmen wide recievers pointing to the flexibility and depth they provide for the entire wide receiving corps. "It's going to be crazy out here. We've got weapons all over the field and I'm excited. Everybody is going to be able to come in fresh. While the opponent's defense will be using the same players, we're coming in with new guys who can do the exact same things that the 1s are doing. It's a great feeling."
- As a major contender competing for the starting role opposite Nelson Agholor, Rogers is motivated by the competitive atmosphere through Fall Camp. "I know I have to just stay consistent, mentally ready, and come out here and work hard. I'm in a situation where I have to come out here and compete, no position is safe right now, the freshmen are doing their job, so every day you have to bring your A game."
- A positive note in regards to injuries on Thursday - Devian Shelton and Bryce Dixon returned to practice. Jordan Simmons, Aundrey Walker and Lamar Dawson were still limited and D.J. Morgan was held out for part of practice.
- Sarkisian said he and his coaching staff will discuss possible position changes, including the eventual placement on either offense or defense for freshmen Rahshead Johnson and JuJu Smith, at their meeting on Saturday.
- Overall, Sarkisian said he is happy with the team's progress through nearly the first week of Fall Camp. Tomorrow the Trojans will practice in full pads for the first time this season. "We are trying to bring it all together, " said Sarkisian. "There are three phases to this thing and I really think that we've made really quality strides in the first four practices. We will get a good test of it all tomorrow when we get to go full pads. There will be no installation, it will be a big review day. We want those guys coming out confident in what they can do and playing football tomorrow."
- Here is Steve Sarkisian at the conclusion of Thursday's practice:
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USC will open the season at Galen Center against Portland State on November 15 and then Tennessee Tech on November 17 before traveling to the Charleston Classic. The Trojans return home for Cal State Fullerton on November 25 before a tough road trip to New Mexico on November 30.
USC finishes the non-conference slate with four out of five games at home against LMU (December 3), Utah State (December 7), Army (December 13) and Vermont (December 30). Just like football, the Trojans will venture to Boston College (December 21) for a marquee matchup.
Conference play begins after the turn of the year with a trip to Colorado and Utah followed by a huge three-game home stand with Cal, Stanford and UCLA coming to Galen Center. USC will then alternate home and road weekends for the rest of the season with Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State coming to Galen Center, and trips to Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Cal, Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA.
The 2015 Pac-12 Tournament is set for March 11-14 once again in Las Vegas.
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Junior Samantha Bricio and sophomore Ebony Nwanebu (pictured) were selected for the preseason all-conference team. The Trojans are seven-time league champions, including the program's most recent crown in 2011.
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Two Coliseum Clubs
All fans will be welcome to enjoy two new pregame clubs, located along the outside fence line near Gates 6 and 19, featuring live televised sports and upscale food and beverage offerings. Starting 30 minutes before kickoff, the clubs will close and then reopen at kickoff until an hour after the game exclusively for Trojan Athletic Fund members.
Long lines and cold hot dogs are a thing of the past. The concession stands will have some tasty new additions like smoked ribs, sliced steak sandwiches, artisan sausage, signature pizza, fried chicken and funnel cakes, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free items. The number of cash registers on the lower level has been doubled and the whole sale process has been reexamined to increase efficiency.
Tunnel Vision on the Video Board
We want our fans in the seats prior to kickoff to enjoy all the pageantry and tradition surrounding a USC football game. To that end, fans will be well entertained and informed upon entering the Coliseum by our Tunnel Vision pregame show which features interviews, insights and behind-the-scenes video. Plus, Steve Sarkisian will be interviewed for the fans inside the stadium before kickoff, at halftime and after the final whistle.
Fans who request mobile delivery when purchasing tickets will have their tickets, which are optimized for display on smartphones, emailed to them immediately and available to be scanned at all entry gates.
Parking and Taxis
The parking plan in the Coliseum lots has been refined through better coordination with state and local traffic agencies, leading to consistent automobile ingress and egress paths and improved entry and exit times. Also, a taxi stand will be located on Martin Luther King Boulevard.
USC, in partnership with global hospitality/client services leader Legends, previously announced several premium enhancements at the Coliseum, including 10 on-field suites (Field Suites) and two members-only clubs located on the field (Field Club) and outside the Peristyle (Peristyle Club). To reserve a Field Suite or obtain membership in the Field Club or Peristyle Club, contact the USC Premium Department. The existing Audi Suites in the interior of the peristyle will now have a shared upstairs level featuring live televised sports, and more info can be found here.
- USC was missing OL Jordan Simmons (resting his surgically repaired knee) and CB Devian Shelton (ankle) today plus TE Bryce Dixon (cramps) left early. The Trojans were boosted by the return to the practice field of CB Kevon Seymour and S Su'a Cravens, who are recovering from separate illnesses, although neither physically extended themselves.
- The defense responded today forcing three turnovers in the red zone, including a Leon McQuay interception. USC was the nation's best red zone defense a year ago.
- With the addition of scholarship kicker Matt Boermeester, three-year starter Andre Heidari is under some competitive pressure. Heidari has been inconsistent through three days. "For Andre, it has been clear to see, three days into training camp, we need to get him to be more consistent mentally, so he can be consistent physically," said head coach Steve Sarkisian.
- On the other hand (or foot), punter Kris Albarado has impressed his new head coach this week. Sarkisian said that Albarado will be "first team all-conference" if he keeps it up. He has been booming the ball with hang time and direction.
- The right side of the offensive line appears to be the Trojans biggest question mark with almost no returning experience. Currently, Zach Banner is manning the right tackle spot while Khaliel Rodgers is working with the first team at right guard. "I don't know if there is a bigger player in college football. He uses his length and size to his advantage," Sarkisian said about Banner. "Every day Coach Drevno is just working him on pad level, pad level, and that's a hard thing to do when you're 6-foot-9."
- Like Banner, Rodgers was a highly touted prospect, but he redshirted his first year and now gets a chance to show off his ability. "Coming out of high school, it was a bit different, this is big time football," said Rodgers about the value of sitting out a year to adjust.
- Both Banner and Rodgers will benefit from having veteran center Max Tuerk as the clear leader of the line and someone who has played every position along the front. "He's a mentor to me. After Marcus [Martin] left, he just took that spot for me. He helps me out with everything," said Rodgers.
- Defensively, the front seven is loaded with talent and experience, but as defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said, you can never have too much depth. The Trojans are counting on the oft-injured Cody Temple to backup Antwaun Woods.
- In the secondary, depth will have to come from the freshmen ranks like cornerbacks Adoree' Jackson, Lamont Simmons and Jonathan Lockett. "[Jackson] has elite change of direction skills, he's really into football and he's a bright kid. The more and more he plays, the better he is going to get," said Wilcox. "We feel really good about the secondary and the new guys coming in. We just have to get them up to speed."
- Here is Steve Sarkisian breaking down day three:
To their credit, the coaches didn't know where they were going either. Head coach Steve Sarkisian had organized for two Navy SEALs to lead the team in a day of exercises but even he wasn't given an agenda, or a warning about a midnight start time. The assembled team was made up of Buck Allen, Cody Kessler, Antwaun Woods, Nelson Agholor, Josh Shaw, Leonard Williams, Chad Wheeler, Max Tuerk, Leon McQuay III, Anthony Sarao, Randall Telfer, Tre Madden, Max Browne, J.R. Tavai, Hayes Pullard and Scott Felix (formerly Starr).
The vans drove east and after three and a half hours finally unloaded in Joshua Tree National Park. It was dark and the players were hungry, but it was just the beginning of what each of them described as the hardest day of training they had ever endured. Over the next 24 hours, the Trojans completed a variety of physical and mental challenges; somewhat of an 'Amazing Race' - Navy SEAL edition. Broken into teams made up of both coaches and players, the challengers spent the day in the desert tracking down hidden capsules containing the descriptions of different activities. These tasks ranged from crawling through the tunnels of rock formations to carrying tires up mountains to solving mental puzzles in a time crunch.
"It was the toughest thing I've ever done," said senior defensive back Josh Shaw. "Climbing that mountain, it seemed like every time you thought you were getting to the top you had to keep on going. Talk about exhausted, I was exhausted. Coming out of it brought us so much closer. Physically we are all drained so you learn you have to pull through mentally. You look across from you and you see your brothers and you don't want to quit on any of them. It was a great experience."
"We went with a lot of leaders but it was cool to see guys leading and also listening to each other," explained junior All-American Leonard Williams. "It's good to know that we have players who can lead and follow at the same time. That's something we need. We know that we have players and coaches who can fight through anything. We've been grinding all summer and to accomplish that together was amazing."
The day was about coming together as a group of leaders, on the eve of Fall Camp, in the dawning of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC. As the group summitted Mt. Ryan (elevation 5,457 feet) at sunset on Friday, the day was finally ending, but a new chapter of Trojan football was just beginning.
"I enjoyed it. But it was hard. It's something I never expected and never thought I could make it through," said Randall Telfer. "But once we finished, not only did we feel relieved, but we felt like we were capable of accomplishing anything. We hiked to the top of a mountain, carrying logs, carrying tires. It was hard for us, and at points I think we all wanted to quit, but getting to the top was a testament to what this team can go through."
"It proved to me that this is not a tap out team," Pullard said. "We Fight On."
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Williams has reported to Fall Camp in good shape after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. He was second on the team last year with 12.5 tackles-for-loss including 5 sacks.
- Freshman All-American safety Su'a Cravens was notably absent from practice tonight. He is dealing with strept throat, but he could be back tomorrow.
- With the secondary down two starters (CB Kevon Seymour is still out as well), the passing game found its rhythm tonight. Cody Kessler connected on a deep ball to Nelson Agholor and a perfectly placed deep out to Darreus Rogers.
- George Farmer also enjoyed another solid practice continuing his comeback. "As I've talked to George about, everybody's path is different," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "To George's credit, he has had a really good attitude about it."
- The tight end position is scary thin now with Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick academically ineligible for this season. Senior Randall Telfer, who has had trouble staying healthy at times during his USC career, has to shoulder the largest burden without any other scholarship veterans. "I try not to think about [staying healthy]," said Telfer, who declared himself 100%. "I try to take care of my body as best as I can, and it hasn't failed me yet." Sarkisian said that the coaches will monitor Telfer's reps to keep him fresh.
- Cope-Fitzpatrick continues to practice with the team. "He was a little down in the dumps about it, but he is on the rise," said Telfer about his teammate. "He's out here. He's not at home playing video games. He's sticking with the team, and I'm really proud of him for that."
- The onus is also on freshman TE Bryce Dixon to accelerate his learning curve and contribute immediately. "I told him that one of the things we preach here for tight ends at 'SC is aggression," said Telfer. "That's something that Rhett Ellison taught me and that's something I am trying to teach him."
- The defense did strike back tonight with a few turnovers including a great pick by CB Devian Shelton of a Max Browne pass. The backup centers, Toa Lobendahn and Viane Talamaivao, struggled with shotgun snaps, which led to some loose balls.
- Two veterans are looking for second acts in their careers by changing positions. Anthony Brown has moved from cornerback to running back, while D.J. Morgan switched from running back to cornerback. They are both listed as two-way players on the roster.
- LB Scott Starr has legally changed his last name to Felix, which is his father's last name.
- The Trojans officially added a new scholarship kicker, Matt Boermeester. The left-footer is relatively new to the sport, but he has showed off a powerful left leg in the first two practices putting pressure on incumbent Andre Heidari. Boermeester is a transfer from Saddleback College, and he'll have three years of eligibility at USC.
- Here is Steve Sarkisian's post-practice press conference:
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All games will be played at the TD Arena in Charleston, which was recently ranked as the No. 1 destination in the United States by Travel & Leisure.
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"We are excited to fun up tailgates and viewing parties with our expanded line of University Mold Kits," said Hermes Risien, Jell-O Brand Assistant at Kraft Foods. "College football fans will score a touchdown at their tailgates with these delicious Jell-O treats."
- Howard Jones Field was flooded with new faces, returning veterans and interested spectators. All three made for a different atmosphere than the quiet spring. The Trojan Family packed the sidelines and Dedeaux Deck as four of the first five practices are open to the public.
- The veterans returning from injury along with the influx of freshmen talent raised the competition level, according to head coach Steve Sarkisian. Of note, DL Leonard Williams shoulder "feels great" and he suffered "no tweaks", while WR George Farmer, WR Steven Mitchell, OL Aundrey Walker, LB Lamar Dawson, OL Jordan Simmons and RB Justin Davis were all notable returnees from season-ending injuries suffered last year.
- Farmer on his knee: "I wasn't thinking about my knee. It's just as good as my right leg, even better."
- Walker was limping around some, but he is fully healed, reported the head coach. He just needs to push through soreness. Dawson was still unable to practice fully, while CB Kevon Seymour sat out entirely as he recovers from the effects of an illness which hospitalized him last week.
- As for the new faces, WR John "JuJu" Smith made the play of the day on a diving catch. Smith is one of several two-way candidates along with Rahshead Johnson, who played offense today, and Adoree' Jackson, who primarily worked at cornerback although he got 15 plays at wide receiver.
- Josh Shaw (pictured) on Jackson playing both ways: "I can only imagine from day one it has to be tough, but Adoree' is a hard worker. His room is actually right next to mine in the dorm, and we were up late last night just studying. Adoree' is really a guy that just wants it."
- Seymour described the much-hyped Jackson as "a freak athlete," but Lamont Simmons "really impressed me," said the veteran corner. "He'll be big for us." The Trojans are loaded at cornerback as freshman Jonathan Lockett was impressive today as well.
- USC's talent pool is shallower at tight end where Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick was ruled out for the season due to academic ineligibility. He is still able to practice with the team, but Randall Telfer and freshman Bryce Dixon are the only scholarship tight ends left. Sarkisian is not concerned though saying that walk-on Chris Willson is "adequate" and fullbacks Soma Vainuku and Jahleel Pinner are versatile.
- Telfer on Dixon: "He had a pretty good day for a first day. I know it was a lot better than my first day. We are going to need him this season."
- On the offensive line, freshmen are providing a major boost at least in terms of numbers. Viane Talamaivao is working at center, which is a new position for him. Toa Lobendahn is also taking reps at center to increase his "versatility" in case starter Max Tuerk goes down.
- We'll have a complete feature on USC's Navy SEAL leadership training from the past weekend, but Josh Shaw called it the "toughest thing I've ever done" and his take seemed unanimous across the dozen or so players that were given the opportunity to participate.
- Practice ended with a little rookie accountability drill as the freshman already lost the "rookie ball" that they are tasked with protecting all month. Apparently, QB Jalen Greene was to blame, said Williams.
- Our post-practice press conference video glitched after three minutes today, so we apologize for the abbreviated clip. Typically, we'll have the entire Sarkisian presser.
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On the night, Woods was the star with 4 catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. Kennard had two tackles, including one for loss, in his first game as a pro.
In all, 55 Trojans reported for training camp with NFL teams, but those numbers will surely dwindle by opening kickoff as roster cuts and injuries fill out the month of August.
The fans have the opportunity to settle that debate as part of ESPN's "The Season", which ranks Allen as the No. 2 seed in its 16-player bracket. He is matched up with Terrell Suggs in round one, who had 24 sacks for Arizona State in 2002.
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Allen was the first player in NCAA history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. He also caught 34 balls for 256 yards and 1 TD in 1981.
(Photo by Sports Illustrated)
Public attending practice must sign in and present a current ID. No cameras, still or video, are permitted. The schedule is subject to change and the public availability for the Coliseum practices is still to be determined.
Here is the list of practices open to the public, and again, note that the top four can be viewed from the Howard Jones east sideline:
Aug. 5--6:15 p.m.
Aug. 6--2:30 p.m.
Aug. 8--2:30 p.m.
Aug. 10--8:45 a.m.
Aug. 11--2:30 p.m.
Aug. 15--8:45 a.m.
Aug. 17--2:30 p.m.
Aug. 20--9 a.m.
Aug. 21--2:30 p.m.Aug. 22--9:15 a.m.
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Isner and Karlovic are two of the biggest servers on tour, and combined to ace Johnson 56 times, but he survived to face No. 2 Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals. Unfortunately for Johnson, the challenge remains the same as Raonic is right next to Isner and Karlovic as the three biggest servers on the ATP Tour.
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Versatile defensive back Josh Shaw missed out on the list, but he was profiled by ESPN's Jason Sehorn, a Trojan himself, as one of the five best cornerbacks in college football.